Island Summer - Part 5
    by Jack Rowan

For people, places and things mentioned in this part, please see the end. Further notes about the story appear at the end of part 8. Copyright information is at the start of part 1.

Stories by Jack Rowan:

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And now followed a period in my life, and it was no more than two weeks long, which I still look back on in wonderment, a time of such intensity and excitement that it was impossible to think about it, to observe it; only to participate.

Looking back, I can't reconstruct all we did, and I don't try; that would seem almost to be an invasion of the lives of those two young men. But often an incident, a scene, will come back to me, still happy, fresh and extraordinary, and I can hear an echo of the joy we shared. That time has become a part of me, and nothing that has happened since has spoilt it.

We were together every day; we slept together every night; and together we explored the Island, and each other. We had sex, yes, but it became a part of the exploration; it was never separate, never in a separate chapter or a separate movement of the symphony. We talked about it constantly; often I seemed to be aroused for hours at a time; in a sense, everything we did became sex, sexual, hours, days of foreplay.

And I discovered him in sex, in endless, endless talk, in what we did; and for the first time in my life I began to understand the depths of complexity that hide in any human being. In some ways it was the culmination of my life on the Island, a consummation of it, a climax. Often it seemed to me that this was why I was there at all. In that sense this was the last of my childhood, and the start of what was to come.

So for those few days, something or someone smiled at us, and shielded us from the unavoidable darkness of existence; and we were granted a little honeymoon, a holiday from life.


That first day, the last day of the fiesta, I took him out of the village, and we visited the Sanctuary.

This is another traditional fiesta excursion, but also I wanted to miss the parade of donkeys, when the animals, mobbed and jeered at, their hopeless eyes rolling white in terror, are dragged through the streets with their clowning riders, as caricatures of the horses of the days before. It was a dreadful ceremony, hinting to me of the side of the Island which I preferred not to think of; worn-out dogs drowned in the sea, the casual awfulness of the abattoir, and back, further back, to the fratricidal murders of the war, and the terror which followed it.

So we ground up the hill, laughing as the little car laboured in first gear, trying not to look down, wanting to wait till we got there.

"Oh, wow!"

We were on the top of the highest hill, the Sanctuary of Our Lady, Queen of the Island. It rises right out of the plain, and from here you can see the length and breadth of her realm, from The Port to The Little City, from our village to the northern coast; the curves of the land, the white clustered farms with their round threshing floors, the cool pinewoods of the north, the scorched fields of the west; and around it the dark, distant sea.

A warm breeze ruffled his hair, and leaning my shoulder back against his, I gazed at my homeland, and loved it.

I've never been a religious person, but I respond to a place of worship, a place where for centuries people have felt close to God. Something about the sanctuary building itself would always make me quiet inside; it started in the neat, whitewashed courtyard with its huge pots of geraniums, and further in, into the spare, white church right at the Island's heart, with its little image of the Queen herself, I would be struck silent. It almost frightened me.

We stood in front of the altar, and I caught his hand.

"Your Kip is my lover now, Queen," I heard him whisper. "Do you approve?"

He paused, and then whispered to me, "Come on!"


He pulled me to a door by the side of the altar.

"The nuns live in here!" I said. "It's forbidden!"

He smiled at me and pulled me through. The cool, tall corridor stretched away, with doors on either side, and he picked one at random. The room was empty, no furniture, just the white walls above the grey flagged floor.


He pushed me against the wall, sank to his knees and swallowed me. It was a completely unexpected assault, but I complied immediately, raising my hands above my head and gasping. It was born in on me that we were doing something important, something dangerous, and a protest would be petty and unworthy. Instantly I was swept away into ecstasy. He was not moderating his actions in any way, he was noisy and vigorous, a hand moved behind me and into my crack and his finger was into me, shocks ran through me and up my back, my dick was in him to the root, I could feel it move into his throat. The sunlight from the window fell in a square on the floor and my eyes danced over it, hypnotised. I felt like a victim on the point of sacrifice, and then I came.

He swallowed me down as I writhed in front of him, round him, and then without a word, without a kiss, he pulled up my shorts and dragged me staggering back into the church. Slightly ironically, I thought, he bowed to the altar and pulled me outside.

"Yes! I ate her little boy in her own house! If she doesn't approve, we're really for it!"

He leapt into the air with a shout, and I collapsed on a stone bench, helpless with sex and laughter.

And then, on the way back, we talked quite seriously about God.

That evening we went to the dance in the main square, the final act of the fiesta, but I don't remember it much; I think I had a fair amount to drink. I remember the crowds of people, and dancing, dancing with Maria and my mother and Peggy, and I remember Adam dancing with Cion, her brown amused eyes looking round his shoulder. And I remember the traca, exploding down the street above our heads, and Adam, stunned by the noise, a cracker falling on his shoulder, and Pere and me beating it off him, laughing.

Then we were away to bed.


The promontory is miles long and wild, an open heath covered with short, scrubby bushes, stunted by the wind. There's no sign of human habitation except for the lighthouse we're driving towards. If it weren't for heat of the sun, we could be in Ireland or the north of Scotland.

We reach the end of the road at a small turning place, and leave the car. The bushes are rosemary; the air is full of their scent and the sound of the bees visiting their flowers. The heat weakens us, it's the middle of the day, and slowly we walk along the path towards the headland. The lighthouse is behind our right shoulders, its huge fog-horns poised to blast us; it's intimidating.

We follow a trail between the bushes, whether made by humans or animals we can't tell, and now we are hand-in-hand. The land is narrow enough to see the sea on both sides, the cliffs drop sharply away only yards from our feet, and we're far enough out to feel the sea breeze, raw, warm, laden with salt and the smell of the Mediterranean.

Finally we reach the end, the uttermost north of the Island, and there we lie down. Without a word we strip off the few clothes we're wearing, and take each other in our mouths. We lie side-by-side; he must arch his back to do this, I am so short; my head is flung back, and his legs, covered with golden down, are on either side of my face, my head is pillowed on his thigh. There is rosemary all around us, between us, under us, and we seem to lie for hours, listening to the breath of the wind and the buzzing of bees. We scarcely move, we make no sound, we approach our climax with exquisite, luscious slowness, and when finally we come, it's like sinking into honey, it's so sweet, so unbearably slow and languid.

We're on our backs and I'm lying half on him, his arms are folded round me, and together we gaze into the dark blue empty sky.

Much later, and dressed now, we are walking back.

"What's the Island word for rosemary?"


Occasionally he asks me things like that; he knows I like it. I start to sing an Island song.

Atop the highest mountain
   There's a rosemary in flower,
   And at eleven o'clock at night,
There's a nightingale singing,
Atop the highest mountain.

"You've got a nice voice."


I hug him. My voice is awful; it always has been. I never sing. The wind carries the song away.

We take branches of rosemary back. My mother uses it to sweeten the linen; this wild variety is too bitter to eat.


We are in The Little City. It's one of my favourite parts of the Island, the huge expanse of the Grand Esplanade, and we are sitting at a table, shaded by palmtrees, drinking coffee from the Athenaeum cafe. I am reading a mainland newspaper and Adam is sitting, smoking.

For me it's a perfect moment. The Esplanade is surrounded by huge buildings, palaces, almost, the mansions of the old patronal families, and people here take it easy, they move quietly, with an air of control.

I see he's looking at me, and I'm immediately worried that he may be bored. I smile.

"I'm sorry," I say. "Let's move on."

"No, no, I'm okay. I was just thinking."



"What about me?"

"The village boy is gone."

"What do you mean?"

"I see an elegant young man, coffee cup and sunglasses on the table, that little handbag thing, cigarette held just so, deep in perusal of the international news in El Pais... You changed your clothes, even, long trousers, shoes instead of those sandal things..."

I laughed.

"I didn't even think."

"You didn't have to. This is a town, a real town, I can feel it; these people are real townspeople. No problem. You just fit in wherever you go. I'm the one who looks like a beach boy here."

I feel a bit embarrassed.

"I'm sorry."

He laughs.

"Oh, don't be. I love you whoever you are. Actually, I'm intrigued. I wonder who you are, here. Perhaps you work for the Island government. Or perhaps you're a young lawyer. Or maybe... yes, how about - a rent boy. Yes. With a certain attitude. And far from cheap, I think."

He looks at me, and his grey eyes blur. His little fantasy has turned him on.

Slowly I unfold my sunglasses and put them on the top of my head. My face is serious as I look down my nose and blow smoke in his face.

"A blowjob is five thousand, Englishman."

There's a pause, as he stares at me madly.

"Okay," he whispers.

I look at his shorts and tee-shirt in obvious disdain.

"In advance," I tell him.

He reaches into his pocket, and counts out the money. I pick it up. I can see the waiter coming to collect payment for the coffee; I cup my hand behind Adam's neck, and kiss his lips gently. I can feel he is now seriously aroused. I lower my sunglasses over my eyes.

"He is English?" says the waiter, as I pay him. He's a young man, from this town judging from his accent, dark haired and attractive.

"Yes. We have a - business arrangement."

"So I saw." He snickers meaningly.

"I'm looking for - somewhere private."

"There's a room in the Athenaeum which is not in use today."

I wave a mil at him, and it disappears.

"Come with me."

He leads us into the cafe, and through the meeting hall beyond. The huge windows are open and a breeze from the Esplanade makes the room surprisingly cool. I look at Adam, and I can tell he is now almost frantic. I keep a straight face, allowing my eyes to pass over him, aloof.

We mount the steps, clattering on the tiled surfaces, and pass along a balcony. The room he admits us to is an office, with a desk, chairs and a leather sofa; its windows are open; we are high above the harbour, and the view is staggering.

"That's fine," I say distantly to the waiter. "You can leave us."

"Uh... Can I... can I watch?"

"He wants to watch," I say to Adam.

Adam looks at him.

"Okay," he whispers.

I hold out my hand, and the waiter returns my mil. I turn to Adam and fold my arms.


He undresses. He is hugely, rigidly hard. I take off my glasses and smile at him slightly.

"Don't be afraid, Englishman. Come."

I lead him to the sofa, lie him down in it, and get to my knees. A kind of pride rises in me; I am determined to give him his money's worth, and to impress our audience. I lean forward and kiss him voluptuously, taking command over him, thrusting my tongue into him till he groans. Then I lick down his chest, round his nipples, and bite them gently; it was only this morning that he started to show me what feelings this part of my own body can give me. His dick jerks. I lick down to it slowly, and tongue his balls, the beautiful soft fair hair trailing over my tongue. Then I take him in my mouth, suddenly and unexpectedly, and swallow him in one movement. I am getting good at this, and I hear the waiter gasp in astonishment. I work on him gently but firmly; he throbs in my mouth, the skin slides exquisitely over the firmness beneath, and the smell is the same, sunny sweat and soap and him. The collision between what I feel for him, what we are doing and the situation we are in has made me feel both disgusted with myself and hugely aroused, but I am determined to keep my control, to play this out to the end.

He is groaning rhythmically, almost in pain, thrusting into me; and then he comes, screeching and grabbing my hair, forcing me down upon himself ruthlessly, until he collapses back on to sofa, exhausted.

His eyes look at me, wide and distressed.

"Good God," he whispers.

A slight sound reminds me of the waiter. I rise and turn to him, and he backs away from me, his eyes wild. A glance at his black trousers tells me how the scene has affected him.

"I've never... a thousand cunts..."

My lips still sticky with Adam's come, I grab him and kiss him. He stares at me, and his expression is incomprehensible.

"Always remember," I whisper viciously. "When you saw it, you wanted it."

He turns from me, and bolts.

Adam is already clothed, and I sit beside him on the sofa.

"I'm... I'm ashamed," he says.

He's staring at his hands in his lap, and I feel sorry for him. I throw my arms round him and hug him, and suddenly it feels okay; I smile, and kiss his forehead.


"Seriously, are you okay?"

His face was concerned. We were sitting outside a restaurant on the quay; it was busy, but no one at the tables near us seemed to be English. People were passing constantly on the quayside road, and beyond it yachts from all over Europe were moored.

"Was I good?"

"You aren't a whore."

I took the notes out of my pocket and handed back four of them.

"I'll keep this one," I said. "I earned it."


"The waiter. He paid me."

"Oh, fuck, Kip..."

"Was I good, Adam?"

"Oh, dammit, of course you were, you always are."

"Thanks." I smiled at him. "And yes, I am okay. But... Adam, one performance only, I think. I'm sorry."

He touched my hand. We looked in each others' eyes, and suddenly we started to laugh, at first quietly but then almost hysterically.

"You're right, never again," he gasped, when we had calmed down. "How did it feel? I mean, to you. How did it feel?"

His eyes were genuinely curious.

"Sluttish. Depraved. Incredibly powerful."

He lit a cigarette.

"I felt... completely at your mercy," he said.

"Yes, I know." I was surprised at how honest we were being to each other.

"Did you like that?"

"In a way. Once in a while it's okay. Usually... I prefer it the other way round."

It was like stripping naked in front of him, and I wondered what he would say next.

He smiled at me.

"Let's eat. I'm starving."

Later we walked through the little lanes of the old quarter, getting lost, stopping to look through the windows of tiny workshops, visiting obscure shops selling books, pictures and prints, tourist odds and ends, pottery. This area has its own special smell, which, if I pause now, my nose can call back; sand, hot olive oil, the sea. We stopped in a colonnade; the heat was scorching, devastating, and we bought ice creams in a shop I remembered well, where my mother used to bring Richard and me; the woman who served there, twelve years later, seemed quite unchanged.

At the end of the afternoon, I took him to the Cathedral. In its cool twilight the quietness fell on me again, and after we had wandered round, he stood by me, his arm across my shoulders, as I pushed the waiter's money into the alms-box.


We are going to the north again, to Binialguer beach, a favourite place for our family. Sometimes we used to spend days at a time there, sleeping on the beach, cooking on an open fire. It's in the deep history of our family, one of the first things I think of when I remember my childhood; those days spent in a world of sand, the sound of the waves and the hissing of the little coastal trees, the sun bleaching us; for us children, a time without future or past.

The road passes through the great pinewoods north of the Sanctuary and out into the rolling farmland beyond and a maze of little roads, getting smaller and smaller as we wind north. Finally we're on a track, leading straight across the downs. We pass a large farm; an ancient man looks at us blankly, and his dog chases the car; that was Binalguer de Dalt, and soon after another, Binialguer de Baix, where there are rows of yellow gourds drying on the roof. Then the track tips downwards, riven by huge cracks and trenches, so bad that Adam, wary of the springs, can scarcely drive.

Finally we reach a small space surrounded by trees, where we stop the car and get out. All this is exactly as I remember it; I've had no trouble finding the way. From here there is no track, and we must push our way through the low trees and undergrowth for several hundred yards, the sand skidding under our feet.

And then in the end we get there; we burst out of the trees, and there it is, the beach, completely unchanged. It's small, maybe two hundred yards long, curved, bounded on either side by high rock ridges going deep into the water, and as I expected, there's no one here but us.

The sand is pale, almost white, full of the ground shells of sea creatures, and we fling ourselves on it, face down. The beach is so flat that the sea is almost level with our faces, ten yards away, and we gaze out across its surface, out onto the Mediterranean, north towards France.

"This must be one of the most perfect places on earth," says Adam, and I slide my arm to touch his hand.

Then I strip off, and so does he, this time completely; it seems almost blasphemous to wear clothes here. We put up a sunshade and lie blissfully in the sand, it seems for ages, sometimes apart, sometimes rolling over each other. We have become a different species, strange, naked, beach-dwelling apes.

We wander aimlessly along the beach, patrolling our little kingdom, and to my surprise I find the square of rocks where we used to light our fires. It must be five years since we were here, but the stones are still black from our final meal. I sigh.

"Sad?" he asks me.

"No." I smiled. "Oh, a bit, yes. We had such good times. We used to cook the fish dad and Richard caught and eat them, and stay here for days. The last time was five years ago, I suppose. Then Richard went to England and married Wendy..."

"It must be good to have a brother."

"I worshipped him. He's five years older than me. I was devastated when he left home."

"He's still in England?"

"Yes. I see him whenever I have to go there."

"Well, that's something, at least," says Adam in an undertone, but I can't see what he means.

"Haven't you got any brothers or sisters?"

"No. It's always been just me and dad. I don't remember my mother, not really. And Peggy, of course. My dad was always very busy. If it hadn't been for Peggy I would have had a very lonely childhood."

I grab him. Our bodies press together, and I can feel his dick, completely soft, against mine. It's enchanting; I have never held him naked and soft before.

"You've got me now," I say.

I look up at him.


A slight cloud crosses his eyes, and for a moment I'm disquieted. Then he smiles.

"We haven't swum yet. Come on!"

We charge across the beach into the water, and sheltered here in this shallow bay it's warm, like getting into a bath. We swim and play for ages, just as Richard and I used to.

There's not much surf, because the sea is almost flat, just a few white inches, with the water slowly advancing and retreating, and he is rolling in it when I jump onto him, and kiss him. I kneel back between his legs and look down on him; he has bleached in the sun over the last days, and the blondness of his hair and eyebrows is shocking. The sun glistens on his wet body.

His dick drifts limply in the water as it comes and goes. It bewitches me, and I reach for it and dandle it as it hardens.

"Oh, yes!"

I wash the sand off him, and take him gently in my mouth. He tastes entirely different, of salt and sunblock lotion; the water washes over him, just under my nose. He flings his arms out sideways with a groan, and luxuriates. It's exotic and wild; the sun beats on my shoulders, and my movements are irregular, unpredictable, timed by the waves. His dick, sometimes wet with the sea, runs over my tongue and into my throat; I caress the head in my mouth, cradle it and love it. When I look up, I see his head quite flat on the sand, the water running round it, his hair floating like blond seaweed; sometimes the water is deep enough to cover his ears, and the white foam swirls over his neck.

I'm taking it slow and long, but gradually he starts to groan, rolling his head from side to side, and I speed up. The interruptions from the waves make it difficult, and I start to jack him, hard and fast, while my mouth still holds just the head. For some reason I need to see him actually come, and at the last moment I lean back, still jacking him. His shout echoes from the rocks as he shoots, and the white flecks fly sunlit into the air and fall on his body, in the sea, on his face and hair...


Another evening: somehow we had missed supper, and we decided to go down to Sa Tanca. We got bocadillos from the bar and ate, looking out over the sea, the crescent moon glittering on the little waves. Several of my friends were there, including Pablo, and a number of other people. Most of them had had a fair amount to drink, although Adam and I were still pretty sober.

Just now, the centre of attention was a man called Xavier, who I knew a bit; he was older than us and and worked in the office at the hotel. As usual, something about his manner made me rather dislike him.

"Join the army! You can learn all kinds of things there."

It was true, he had spent a number of years as a regular soldier.

"Like what?" asked Pablo, sceptically. "Marching up and down? Saluting?"

"Wanking?" asked someone else.

"Kung Fu, for example," said Xavier, striking a bogus Bruce Lee pose.

Pablo laughed.

"How to immobilise people. Come on, if you don't believe me," he said to Pablo, "I'll show you!"

"No, no, man, you're not going to throw me around!"

"Don't worry, I won't hurt you," said Xavier. "Come over here."

He led Pablo to one of the wooden pillars holding up the awning, and faced him to it. Then he adjusted the position of his legs round the pillar; I've thought about it, but I can't remember quite how; and gradually lowered him to the ground, and - his legs were locked in such a way that he couldn't move, couldn't stand up. He was quite helpless.

I stared at him, and to my astonishment, I was suddenly and intensely turned on. He was laughing at his own predicament, but I could see he was in some discomfort, and, in fact, quite frightened.

"Now," barked Xavier in Spanish, "Start talking, little Red son-of-a-whore!"

And he lifted his arm as if to backhand him, at which point several people intervened, and helped Pablo up. I was left gasping, and amazed at my reaction.

"Make our excuses," Adam said quietly. "Let's go."

"Where to?"

"Your house in Son Fadrí. Come on."


The lights in the urbanisation were on the walls, at knee height, each casting its pool of brightness in the warm night air. We walked slowly from pool to pool, and for a while said nothing.

"That got to you, didn't it?" said Adam, finally.


I was embarrassed, but I wouldn't think of lying to him.


"But I didn't like it much. Pablo was unhappy, and Xavier knew it. He was enjoying himself."

"You don't much like him, do you?"

"No. I know other soldiers, and they're no problem. But Xavier is a bully. I'm not sure why he left the army, but there was some kind of scandal."

We walked in silence.

"It doesn't have to be like that," he said quietly. "I'll show you, if you like."

I couldn't speak. I was gasping for air.

"But you have to ask for it," he said. "That's the first thing. Otherwise - otherwise it's wrong."

"Okay," I whispered. "Show me."

He took my hand.

"Don't worry. This is going to be a lot of fun."

I recognised the words he had said to me just a few days before, and they reassured me.

We reached our house. This wasn't the first time we had been here, and while I got us some chilled water he was prowling around, looking at things.

"Come on, lover. Let's go to your bedroom."

He ran his hands through my hair, smiling at me.

"Are you really up for this?"

"Yes." I laughed nervously. "Because it's you."

He kissed me.

"If ever you want to stop, just say."


It only took moments for us to take off our shorts and tee-shirts, and we stood looking at each other, naked. Then he led me to the bed and laid me on my back. Both of us were hard; I was so turned on that I could barely take in what was happening.

I saw what he had found: two strips of flannel, the belts of dressing gowns, I think. One-by-one, he used them to tie my wrists to the headboard, quite firmly. I pulled, but they didn't come free. I was quite helpless.

He smiled at me, and bent to kiss me, and I responded maniacally. His eyes were twinkling.

"Now," he whispered, "Start talking, little Red son-of-a-whore!"

The combination of the Spanish words and his face so close to mine was almost too much for me. I groaned and almost came.

He licked my eyes, and then started to bite my nipples. He had done this before, but this time it was different; he was firm, almost fierce, and it hurt. I didn't care, I was beyond anything now; I threw my head back and arched my body and screamed, but he continued, attacking first one and then the other, biting cruelly, harder and harder. I could feel his hand holding my dick, gently moving over it, as the pain lanced through me.

"Okay?" he whispered.

There were tears on my face now, but I was out if it.

"Don't stop..."

Then he was sitting astride me, jacking us both with one hand, while with his other he still pinched a nipple, his nails biting deeply. Overwhelmed by pleasure and pain and helplessness, I came massively in no time, and he followed me. Our bodies were covered in our juices.

In a moment he had untied me, and then I astonished myself by giving a wild cry and bursting into tears. I was crying frantically, desperately, and he held me, kissing and comforting me, and gradually I calmed down.

"God," I whispered, "What happened?"

"Such strong feelings. They have to find a way out; it's quite normal. How do you feel now?"

I laughed.

"Marvellous. Bloody wonderful!"

I laughed and leapt onto him; sitting astride his waist I bent to kiss him.

"God, you're beautiful," he said. "I can't believe how lucky I am..."

I hugged him.

"I want to do that again," I growled. "I want more."

"We will," he said. "But, God! I shall have to be careful with you."

"What do you mean?"

"It would be so easy to hurt you. You're so - open. Kip, promise me now. Never do things like that with anyone you don't really, really know and trust."

"Anyone? But I'm with you!"

I looked at him in confusion.

"Promise! Promise me, Kip!"

He was very serious.

"I promise. Can we go and have a shower now?"

We did, and later we had sex again; it was very gentle and very quiet. And then we slept.


"Hello, Kip, where have been? Man, I haven't seen you for days!"

It was Saturday, Adam and I were doing some shopping, and we had met Pere in the square. There was a trace of hurt in his eyes, and I realised that I'd been neglecting him.

"I've been around, showing Adam the Island, you know..."

He gave me a long look, and I felt uneasy. He switched to English.

"We are going to the beach to make a rice. It's a picnic! Would you like to come? It will be fun. Typical food, swimming..."

So soon we were off to the beach in my parents' car, with me driving and Adam and Bisbe on board. We passed the farm, Son Martí, which this part of the beach was named after, and then the road dipped down the barranc, getting worse and worse, with huge ruts across it. But I knew how to do this, and we kept up quite a good speed; not enough for Bisbe, though, who was howling with laughter and shouting at me to go faster. Finally we arrived at a soft, damp area behind the beach. I swung the car to park next to several others against a wall, and we clambered out. The sound of the cicadas was enormous against the sudden silence as the engine stopped.

It was nearly midday; the sun was high and merciless. All my rancho were there, and quite a few other people too, people I knew. A fire had already been lit, and on top of it was a vast paella dish full of water, in which all kinds of meat, fish and seafood were cooking; because this was out-of-doors, the men were taking the lead, the women offering merely sarcastic remarks in support. I had brought a rabbit as our contribution, already jointed, and this was added to the rest.

We made a few suggestions and helped to stir the concoction for a while, and then decided to go for a swim. Pere came with us. We were all wearing shorts, so we all just ran straight into the sea; the sun would soon dry us off.

The beach of Son Martí was in fact part of the nude section, and Bisbe was both fascinated and hugely embarrassed.

"Look at that woman! Damn it, she's... Look! You can see her tits, and... Tofol, you can see her pubes and everything!"

"Well, yes. It's a nude beach."

"I can't understand that. That's not right, you know. It offends me, that does..."

"You're just worried about getting a hardon, that's all," said Pere.

"No, that's not right, a thousand cunts!" He laughed and splashed Pere, and a water fight broke out.

"Seriously, though, I don't like that. I don't think... After all, this is our village. It's our beach, and don't we have a say?" Bisbe could easily work himself up into a fury, and he had started to do so now. "If we don't like that sort of thing, why can these tourists bring it here?"

"They pay," said Pere. "The hotel is full of furniture made by your dad. If they can't swim nude, and stay away, how would he sell it?"

"There's more to life than money, dammit! It's an insult to us all! Look at that one, lying like that, you can see straight up between her legs, you can see... A thousand cunts, you can see her cunt, man!"

Pere and I burst out laughing.

"What's the joke?" said Adam, swimming up.

"Bisbe doesn't like the nude beach."

"Nor do I, much. It embarrasses me, to be honest."

"Adam agrees with you, Bisbe."

"You see? Not even all the tourists like it, but we have to put up with it, because some idiots from the mainland think it's modern." His face was red, now, and he was shouting. "The guardia ought to stop it, that's what..."

He grumbled on as we walked back to the fire, dripping. Pere and I both knew better than to rise to this mood; once or twice it had led almost to blows.

By now the rice had been added to the water, and it would be ready before long. Bottles of wine were being opened, and soon we were getting quite merry. The rice had to be stirred constantly, and we all took a hand with the huge wooden blades borrowed from the bakery. Moving shadows from the pinetrees overhead dappled our bodies and relieved the heat.

"Are you okay?" I asked Adam.

"Sure," he said with a smile, lifting his glass. "I haven't any idea what anyone's saying, but that's all right. A few more glasses of this, and I'll feel no pain."

Finally the rice was dished out onto plates, and we sat on the ground to eat, our backs against a ruined wall.

"Good?" said Cion to Adam in English.

"Very good, but..."

He fished a tiny squid out of his food and passed it to me, its tentacles dangling. Cion screamed with laughter.

"Sorry," he said, blushing. "Those things give me the creeps."

"Toni Camps brought one of his partridges," she said. "I'm sure it died of cancer!"

I made a face; it wasn't a particularly nice thought.

"What was that?" said Adam.

"You really, really don't want to know."

Cion was still laughing, and I looked at her balefully.

"I don't know how it is," I said, "But people will eat things on a picnic they'd never dream of eating at home. 'Come to supper - we're having cancerous partridge...'"

She wrinkled her nose.

"It's all been boiled. Who cares?"

    People, Places and Things


Christopher Branford
(Kip, Tofol)
TAWF-oolour hero
Eileen Branford his mother
Max Branford his father
Richard Branford his brother
Wendy Richard's wife

Adam Yardley
Peter Yardley his father
Peggy Jenkins their housekeeper

Pere (Pedro)PAIR-uhKip's best friend
Maria d'es Forn Pere's girlfriend
Miquel (Miguel) el BisbeBEEZ-buhfriend of Kip
Pablo friend of Kip
Cion (Asuncion)SEE-awnfiancee of Joan

XavierShuh-vee-EHformer soldier


Sant PauSahnt POWSt. Paul; the village
also called San Pablo (Spanish name)
Son FadríSawn Fuh-DHREEholiday development on coast
The Portcapital of the Island
The Little Citythe other main town
Sa TancaSuh TAHNK-uhbeachbar near Son Fadrí
The SanctuaryChurch of Our Lady, Queen of the Island
BinialguerBee-nee-ahl-GHEHa beach

   Other things

barrancbuh-RRANKsteep-sided sloping valley
bocadilloboh-cah-dhee-lyo(Spanish) a roll cut in half and filled
with egg or cheese, etc
guardia(Spanish) guardia civil, paramilitary
police force
milBritish expatriate slang: a thousand
paellapa-EH-lya(Spanish) rice cooked in stock in a flat dish
rancho(Spanish) group, gang
traca(Spanish) a firework stretching the
length of a street above head-height

    Jack Rowan